After 50 years, sisters reunited with Spider T boat their father captained
THEY spent many happy, sun-soaked days skipping about its smooth decks.
Now, sisters Karen Walker and Linda Bragg have been reunited with the boat captained by their father more than 50 years ago.
The vessel, Spider T, was rescued from the scrap yard by engineer Mal Nicholson 17 years ago and lovingly renovated back to its former seafaring glory.
The sisters spent a day on board the sloop, which their dad Terry Hubbard used to carry grain inland and up and down the coast between Hull, Goole and Sheffield.
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The whole family holidayed onboard the boat for six weeks in the summer of 1965.
"I can still remember the smell of the paraffin lamps in our cabin," said Linda, 54, of Princess Gardens, west Hull.
"It was so small in there, I don't know how we all squeezed into those bunks.
"I have lovely memories of six weeks we spent onboard during our summer holidays.
"We used to love going through the locks and we used to help our dad by running along the banks to open the locks."
Linda was just 8, Karen was 6, their brother Melvyn was only 5 and youngest sister Jeanette a tiny 4 years old.
"I don't know how our mother coped with four small children onboard," said Linda.
"I would chase my sister Karen around the boat.
"Once, when we were raised up out of the water for unloading, she fell off onto another boat. My dad said she would have been better off falling into the sea.
"She must have been OK, but she remembers someone giving her money to stop her crying."
The family lived in a small house in Bright Street, off Holderness Road, until 1966 when they moved to Maybury Road.
They would travel into the city centre and board Spider T from Victoria Pier.
After skippering Spider T for a couple of years, Terry worked as a lighterman on the docks, transferring goods between ships and quays until he was 40, when he was laid off.
Terry died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 but Linda said he would have been thrilled to see the gleaming new Spider T.
She said: "If dad had still been alive, I wouldn't have been able to get him there fast enough. I would have loved it, he would have been so emotional.
"If there is supposed to be any presence after death, or that sort of thing, I would have thought he would have been there of all places.
"He did love that job."
Linda and Karen, 53, stepped aboard Spider T once more, as part of the open days to mark National Tourism Week.
The sisters had read in the Mail about Spider T being chosen to feature in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee flotilla, which will see hundreds of vessels congregate on the River Thames in June.
They contacted owner Mal Nicholson asking if they could see the refurbished boat and were invited to visit Spider T at her current berth on the Stainforth to Keadby Canal by Keadby Lock on the River Trent.
Linda said: "I just burst into tears when I saw her in the Mail because all the memories came flooding back.
"Spider T is a name that absolutely stuck in all our minds.
"It was a lovely feeling getting back on board. I was emotional but I held it together then because I was really excited and interested to see her.
"When we were onboard, the interior was just filled with grain but now it is all done up.
"The area where we slept hasn't had work done yet and it was just as small as we remembered."
Spider T was launched in 1926 at Warren's shipyard in New Holland on the south bank and has twice been restored.
In the early 1990s, a policeman in Rotherham used the vessel as the base for a community project for which he was made an MBE.
However, over time, she fell derelict again and was slowly filling up with water in a forgotten corner of the Yorkshire Waterways Museum in Goole when she was bought by Mr Nicholson in 1994.
Mr Nicholson, of Burringham, who runs a classic car repair business, has completely refitted the boat.
Her exterior has been recreated in its original form while the interior, once used to carry bricks and a variety of other cargoes, has been refurbished as a plush Edwardian interior like a period hotel.
She was given fresh sails and rigging in 2007 and has since sailed as far as Rotterdam and Arbroath in Scotland.
Mr Nicholson, 55, said: "She is a special boat.
"I didn't realise at the time I bought her but as I have learnt more about her, I have realised she is an irreplaceable piece of history.
"When I found her, she was filling up with water and was ready to be cut up for scrap.
"I am so proud when I look at her now.
"I feel like a custodian of a piece of history and I want to make her self-sufficient to secure her future after my tenure is over.
"It is an honour to have owned her and saved her for the region."
Linda and Karen are planning to visit London for the Jubilee regatta to watch Spider T play her part in the historic event in June.
The vessel will be carrying a flag of the Sailors' Families Society and a defaced ensign bearing the emblem of National Historic Ships.
Mr Nicholson said: "It is incredible to be part of the national historic fleet.
"I am honoured to receive this flag. It means so much to me, to the vessel and to the followers of Spider T."